The bone marrow is a factory for making our blood, creating billions of blood cells every day. Distinct places (niches) within the marrow support the production of distinct blood cell lineages from stem cells.
Research points to regulation of these niches being key to balancing the different cell types (such as platelets) in the blood. However, the processes controlling this regulation are not known.
Slow blood cell recovery (particularly low platelet count) is common among bone marrow transplant recipients; typically one-third experience slow platelet recovery, which significantly increases their risk of acute bleeding, illness and death. Low blood cell counts can also persist for more than six months after cancer therapy, are life-threatening and are a major reason for delaying further cycles of treatment – significantly contributing to the failure of chemotherapy to control cancers.